Reining social media; Debating quota; Perils of private Twitter

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Opinion Watch

Reining social media

Social media platforms owned by big tech have lorded over the world for too many years, nursing misinformation with benign algorithm, but now deservingly are under intense global scrutiny. After the European Union, India too has brought in changes in rules to make them answerable.

The Times of India in its Editorial has cited the ongoing Brazilian Presidential elections to argue that scale at which the social media platforms are being used by pushing morphed images and fake news. The daily stated – platforms will have to make reasonable efforts to prevent circulation of misinformation, explain rules in Indian languages. Indeed, the government can also constitute Grievance Appellate Committee. The Economic Times also stated that the tech companies can benefit by proactively sharing with lawmakers their evolving human and algorithmic content moderation practices.

Framing rules is an easy task, for India has the reputation of being a factory of laws and regulations, which begin struggling to breathe when brought out of the Babus’ desks. Indian Parliament should introspect whether the country has an ecosystem where the powers of big tech to subvert democracy could be checked. Do we have the tech wherewithal to web mine on a real time basis to cleanse platforms of contents which are malicious?

Debating quota

Easy way to comfort cries of socio-economic inequity is by taking refuse in reservation system. Indian politicians are masters of the art of using the reservation promises to suit their requirements.

The US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments against the policy of affirmative action in educational institutions after litigants challenged with arguments that the Whites and the Asians are being disadvantaged, stated The Times of India in its Editorial. The daily brings the issue in the Indian context and cites instances of state governments’ actions which have made a mockery of the reservation policy in the country. New quota joy riders are Jharkhand with 77 per cent, Himachal Pradesh with ST status to Hattees, Karnataka with 57 per cent and so on. Tamil Nadu for years has turned reservation a crude joke.

Ironically, there’s no healthy debate in the country on the benefits of reservation policy, for there is clear merit in the argument that the creamy layer allows the ‘already benefited’ to pocket the affirmative actions, which are meant to benefit who are socially backwards with compromised means to climb the ladder.  

Perils of private Twitter

Twitter is now in the hands of Elon Musk, who is essentially a capitalist, chasing profits with his Tesla and Spacex. Twitter after becoming the global town hall has gone into the hands of Musk, who will make it private, with resultant opacity in the functioning of a platform, which now is the principal carrier of news.

The Hindu and The Indian Express have dug deeper into the consequences of the development, speculating on the roadmap ahead for the microblogging site. While Mr. Musk has argued for a freer space with little regulation, he has, since his purchase, tempered those views in favour of better and cleaner moderation of content, ostensibly to not lose advertisers wary of lending their brand to problematic content,” the Hindu commented in its Editorial.

The fact, however, remains that a powerful information tool is firmly in the hands of one person, who in the past has shown pumping Bitcoins, Dogecoins. He has also been a co-companion of the totalitarian regime of China, which already is speculated to command influence over some of the key global opinion forming platforms.

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